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Football Jigs Lite for Table Rock Bass

by John Neporadny Jr.

 When he played tight end in high school, Brian Snowden was on the receiving end of the football but now the BASS pro is delivering a football jig to bass. The Bassmaster Elite Series competitor throws a football jig year-round to catch bass on his home waters of Table Rock Lake, where he also guides when he gets a break from the tournament trail. Most of the time he uses a heavy jig to reach deep bass, but in the spring Snowden switches to the light version of the lure.
“The nice thing about using a lighter football jig is you can fish bigger rock and you don’t get hung up as much,” advises Snowden. “The bait works over the bigger rocks a lot better.”
Throwing a 3/4-ounce Bass Pro Shops Enticer Pro Series Football Jig produces best for Snowden when he targets bass on deep structure, but when the fish move to the shallows to spawn the Missouri angler opts for 3/8- and 1/2-ounce models of the bottom-bouncing bait. Snowden has tried some 1/4-ounce football jigs before, but he has discovered his most productive shallow water model is the 3/8-ounce version tipped with a plastic chunk.
The depth he’s keying on determines which size jig Snowden selects even for shallow bass. If the weather is calm and Snowden finds fish in the 5- to 10-foot depth range, he will toss a 3/8-ounce football jig, but when the wind blows hard and bass are holding in depths of 10 to 20 feet, he opts for the 1/2-ounce model. While fishing pressure causes some anglers to scale down on the weight of their jigs, Snowden stays with the same size jig but downsizes the lure’s profile by trimming the front and back of the jig’s skirt.
The football jig produces in the spring for Snowden because it resembles a bass’ favorite meal. “In the prespawn it mimics a crawfish, which the fish are feeding up on before they go on the spawn,” discloses Snowden. To make his lure more closely resemble a crawfish, Snowden selects football jigs in green pumpkin, peanut butter and jelly or green pumpkin-and-orange hues and trailers in green pumpkin, smoke purple or black. His favorite trailers for lightweight football jigs include a Zoom Super Chunk Junior, Bass Pro Shops Speed-O Craw and a Bass Pro Shops XPS Double Tail plastic grub.
Gravel or chunk rock bottoms are Snowden’s top spots for delivering a football jig lite. “Most of the time when the fish are coming in to spawn they will be on the chunk rock in the early spring and then in the post spawn the fish will be on gravel points or underwater creek channels or ledges along a flat where they are still fairly shallow,” he reveals.
Since he’s fishing shallow, Snowden makes short casts close to the bank and works the jig all the way back to the boat to cover different depths. Once he catches a few fish at a certain depth, he will position his boat 5 feet deeper and cast at 45-degree angles toward the bank. “If I am getting most of my bites at 10 feet I’ll position my boat in 15 feet and try to cast into 5 feet and then work the 5- to 12-foot range,” Snowden explains. When bass are moving out to their summertime haunts during the postspawn, Snowden keys on depths of 8 to 20 feet.
His presentation varies depending on the mood of the fish. Most of the time he hops the lure along the bottom by lifting his rod from the 9 o’clock position to 11 or 12 o’clock. “Some times I will change it from a small hop of about 1 1/2 feet off the bottom to just really creeping it along the bottom,” he says.
When the water is warming in the prespawn, bass move around more and tend to be more aggressive so Snowden relies on the hopping presentation most of the time. “It is kind of a cross between a crankbait and a little slower presentation (like a Carolina rig),” describes Snowden.
During the postspawn, bass are recuperating from the rigors of reproduction so Snowden crawls his football jig. “The fish seem to be a little more lethargic after the spawn and more bottom-oriented presentations seem to work better then,” he recommends.
Snowden tosses his football jig on a 7-foot medium-heavy action St. Croix Legend Elite rod and Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series bait-cast reel (6.4:1 gear ratio) filled with 8- to 14-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon line. He believes the fluorocarbon line is essential to his football tactics. “I can not only feel the bite better but I can feel the structure better especially when fishing the bigger rocks,” says Snowden. “That is usually a key area where you are going to get several bites so that line helps me differentiate between the gravel and the bigger rocks that I can’t see. It really helps me feel what is down there on the bottom.”
The Table Rock guide has tackled several bruiser smallmouth that have intercepted his light football jigs in April on his home lake. “I catch the occasional 2-pounder, but I will catch a lot more of the 3-to 4-pound class smallmouth,” claims Snowden.
Keeping his throws short with a light touch becomes a winning football jig strategy for Snowden when bass set up in the shallows during the spring.

For information on shows, lodging and attractions in the Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo area or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-BRANSON or visit the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB web site at